Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Census data shows prevalence of disability in America

In honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act's 18th year in effect as of July 26, the Census Bureau has released its most recent data about disability in America.

It reports that 41.3 million people have some level of disability, representing 15 percent of the civilian non-institutionalized population 5 and older. By age, the Census reports that 6 percent of children 5 to 15 have disabilities, 12 percent of people 16 to 64 have disabilities, and 41 percent of adults 65 and older have disabilities.

In terms of using or needing assistance, it reports that 10.7 million disabled people 6 and older need personal assistance with one or more activities of daily living (such as taking a bath or shower) or instrumental activities of daily living (such as using the telephone).

As for specific disabilities, the Census says that 2.7 million people 15 and older use a wheelchair, another 9.1 million use an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches or walker. It reports that 1.8 million people 15 and older report being unable to see and 1 million people 15 and older report being unable to hear. In the area of speech difficulties, 2.6 million people 15 and older have some difficulty having their speech understood by others.

In the area of MHMR, 14.3 million people have limitations in cognitive functioning or have a mental or emotional illness that interferes with daily activities, including those with Alzheimer's disease and mental retardation. This group comprises 6 percent of the population 15 and older.

In terms of employment issues, 11.8 million of 16- to 64-year-olds report a medical condition that makes it difficult to find a job or remain employed. They comprise 6 percent of the population this age. But 56% of people 21 to 64 with some type of disability were employed in the past year. The rate ranged from 82% of those with a non-severe disability to 43% with a severe disability. For those without a disability, the employment rate is 88 percent for the same period.

In the area of income, $22,000 is the median earnings for people with a non-severe disability. This compares with $25,000 for those with no disability and $12,800 for those with a severe disability. But 18% of people with a non-severe disability did have household incomes of $80,000 or more. By comparison, 26 percent of people without a disability had household incomes of $80,000 or more, with the same being true of 9 percent of those with a severe one.

In terms of living arrangements, 60% of people 25 to 64 with a non-severe disability live in married-couple families. The corresponding rates are 68 percent for those without disabilities and 50 percent for people with severe disabilities. And 23% of people with a non-severe disability live alone or with non-relatives. This compares with 28 percent of those with a severe disability and 19 percent without a disability.

In the arena of education, 33% of people 25 to 64 who had a non-severe disability were college graduates. This compares with 43 percent with no disability and 22 percent with a severe disability. And 2.2 million of undergraduates had a disability, as of the 2003-04 school year. These students represented 11 percent of all undergrads.

In Internet use, 36% of people 15 to 64 with a severe disability use a computer and 29% have the Internet at home, respectively. The respective figures for those without a disability are 61 percent and 51 percent.

The Census reports that 96.5% of transit buses were ADA lift- or ramp-equipped, as of 2005. This represents an increase from 61.7 percent in 1995.